House Democrats Look to Turn Paul Ryan into Boogeyman in 2018

Ryan Imploring AP PhotoJ. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Democrats are training their sights on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) as part of their strategy to claw back seats in the GOP-packed House of Representatives in 2018 — a possible acceptance of President Trump’s popularity in vital white working-class districts.

McClatchy reports that Democratic campaign bodies have Ryan in their targets, in part because his standing is low among voters in conservative districts with whom President Trump is popular, such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

“On the battlefield we have, we have to target districts where Donald Trump performed quite well and talk to people about Speaker Ryan,” Tyler Law, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the outlet. “A message about establishment Washington Republicans is very powerful and does not alienate voters.

The DCCC said they have been conducting polling and focus groups to test their attacks. This comes on the back of a national TV ad from the DCCC accusing Ryan and “establishment Republicans” of “catering to drug companies and special interests” in their Obamacare reform plans.

“Paul Ryan and the Washington Republicans. It’s the same thing every time. The rest of us have to change Washington,” the ad’s narrator says, striking an unusually populist tone for the Democrats.

McClatchy reports that other Democratic groups are also ramping up the pressure on Ryan. House Majority PAC released a website that goes with the unusual tagline: “Paul Ryan: Just Too Fancy.”

“A D.C. politician who puts the ultra-rich first,” it says in a blend of messaging likely to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike.

“We’ve given this guy a free pass for too long,” Charlie Kelly, House Majority PAC’s executive director, told McClatchy. “This guy owns the Republican brand. He owns the agenda. He’s the face of that.”

The strategy represents a mirror of the House Republican strategy in 2010, which successfully demonized then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — using her as an unpopular face for House Democrats. That midterm election saw the Democrats lose control of the House, something from which they have not yet recovered.

It appears Democratic leadership has learned from that experience, and now plans to use that tactic against an isolated Ryan — who has far from united support among House Republicans and has not had a close relationship with President Trump or his supporters.

A Bloomberg poll in July showed Ryan to be less popular than Trump, with a 34 percent approval rating. That approval rating is likely only to worsen amid increasing Democratic attacks aimed squarely at him.

Republicans dismissed the Democrats strategy, telling McClatchy that it is a head-fake to distract from the Democrats’ own internal squabblings.

“This is less a political strategy and more a strategy about easing mounting pressure on Nancy Pelosi to step down from leadership,” Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said.

Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY


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